Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to connect a network drive at startup easily

Recently I added an Ubuntu server at home so I can wirelessly store my data on a large hard drive. I configured Samba server in Ubuntu and the Mac would connect to it using Finder's "Connect to" menu.

However, once I reboot, the drive is gone, and I have to use the Finder again to connect the drive.

There is a very easy way Macs can connect a network drive at startup, just follow these steps:
  1. Mount the drive
  2. Open "Accounts" in system preferences
  3. Drag the mounted drive's icon from the desktop to the login items.
Done! It's that simple!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Windows XP home does not save network passwords

I can connect to a network drive using Windows XP home edition fine.

But I have to enter a password after each reboot.

However, there is a nifty "Remember Password" option in XP Pro.

Now where did the little checkbox go in XP home?

Apparently M$ didn't include the ability to save network passwords on Windows XP Home edition. They want me to buy XP Pro version so I can save my passwords.

And oh, the official explanation given by M$ is "XP home lacks security features for retained passwords" - therefore they chucked out the "remember password" button altogether.

Great way to build a home OS!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My iPhone dreams are shattered

Just like the majority of students, I'm poor, but I have dreams.

My latest dream was to get an iPhone.

Why I want iPhone? Because it has many features not found in other commonly available/commonly known phones. It's more like a fashion statement than a machine of need. That makes it hot for any student.

The only thing that was preventing me from buying it was a prohibitive price tag of $400. It's now been taken off, and it's down to $200, though it continues to be advertised as $199 by the respective companies in hopes that many will not feel the pinch by seeing the number start with 1 rather than 2.

But I do feel the pinch, and I have decided not to buy an iPhone despite waiting for it for a long time. Here's why:

I worked out the total yearly cost of ownership of iPhone:

Item One-time cost 1-year cost

iPhone handset 199 199
Tax 16.4175 16.4175
Minimum monthly rental 69.99 839.88
"Activation" fee 36 36
SMS 5 60

Total cost of ownership of an iPhone is $1151.30.

I'd rather invest that money in books, food, rent, and paying other bills.

I'm sorry Apple and AT&T but you have disappointed me by first showing me a glimpse of reduced cost, but eventually not doing it at all.

No iPhone for me.

Edit: I'm deviating from my usual policy of including pictures in posts, because I don't want to see an iPhone pic now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another site that forces users into Internet Explorer, and how to bypass it

Update: After numerous customer complaints, Airtel's website now works with Safari.

I'm an Indian living in USA, and I use Airtel's calling card service to make phone calls to India. All was well until two weeks back when I ran out of my balance and wanted to fill dollars into my account as usual. I was horrified to see the message "Please use Internet Explorer" when I tried to login to their website using Safari or Firefox 3!

A quick call to their "customer care" tells me the reason:

"Sir we have performed some upgrades to our website and you can use only IE at this time".

I asked:
"There is no IE for Mac users, so does it mean Mac users can't use your service anymore?"

Answer was quick:
"I'm afraid yes sir, you will have to use Internet Explorer from some other computer to recharge your balance".

What a great business idea - the customer wants to give your company his money, but the company has an upgraded website that won't let him login!

Here's how I bypassed the IE enforcement:

1. Launch Safari on your Mac and open its preferences (command and , keys at the same time)
2. Go to the last tab of Preferences and check "Show develop menu in menu bar"
3. Click the Develop menu in the Safari menu bar, and choose Develop -> User Agent -> Internet Explorer 7.0
4. Now you can login to the Airtel website!

Note: If you keep seeing a Verisign image after logging in, check the "remember me" option when logging in, and then go back to their homepage. You'll log right in without any problem!

IE enforcers, I have pwned you!